Friday, February 28, 2014

Movie Review - Robocop

On the whole, I think I liked the original "Robocop" better. The two movies share the same basic plot structure. Young police officer, Alex Murphy, is badly wounded. Omnicorp, looking for a candidate for it's android technology, rescues Murphy from a probable life as a cripple in a wheelchair, and restores him to his life as a police officer.  But the stories diverge in ways detrimental to the remake.

In the original, Murphy is already Robocop. He doesn't remember his past life. In fact, it's been hidden from him. He has a sympathetic partner (Nancy Allen) who remembers who he was. Robocop is the perfect cop, able to distinguish criminals from honest citizens. But he's also troubled as memories of his past life, of a wife and child, start to intrude. Eventually he overcomes his programming, uncovers Omnicorp's corrupt heart and goes after them.

The following may be a bit of a spoiler, but, if you saw the trailers, you would know most of this. In the new movie, we first meet Alex Murphy as an honest cop in a system that doesn't exactly reward honesty. He makes powerful enemies in the underworld and they attempt to kill him. The attempt isn't quite successful, but he's left severely damaged.

Meanwhile, Omnicorp is a large corporation that makes robots for military use. They want to expand into the US police market but US law forbids it. Michael Keaton plays the cynical Omnicorp CEO. He conceives of a hybrid, half human, half machine that he thinks can skirt the law. Alex Murphy makes the perfect candidate. Murphy's wife signs the papers and Murphy wakes up as a nightmare version of himself. All his past memories are intact.

In the original, Murphy struggles against his programming to find his true self. It's the inner strength he finds in discovering who he was that gets him through the battle with Boddicker (the crime lord trying to kill him) and propels him to take on Omnicorp to thwart their plans to completely run Detroit.

In the new movie, Murphy has to struggle against the drugs they gave him to control him as he goes after the the gang that originally tried to kill him. Then he turns his attention on Omincorp for what they did to him. I thought the story in the original was better.

Another big difference. The original movie cost $13 million to make in 1987. The new movie cost $100 million. I didn't think the effects (Ropocop's armor, or the big two-legged robots) looked any better in the new movie. Since $13 million in 1987 is about $26 million today, they spent 4 times as much money on the new movie as the original. The original made about $54 million which means the new movie will have to make about $400 million to equal the original's success.

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